‘Keedaa Cola’ has many real-life references, says director Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam

The Telugu filmmaker says he took some cinematic liberty to make 'Keeda Cola', a crime comedy, more spicier.

ByPrakash Pecheti

Published Oct 31, 2023 | 6:27 PMUpdatedOct 31, 2023 | 6:27 PM

Tharun Bhascker

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, filmmaker Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam heard some “weird” news about how people were making quick bucks with innovative methods.

“The lid of a manhole in one of the city roads was missing. During an enquiry, it was learnt that the lid was sold off to a scrap dealer,” he recalls.

The director recollects more such incidents. “Cases were filed against restaurants for serving a dead cockroach in Biryani and a fly in cooldrink. Of course, it’s a crime. But one has to face so many circumstances on the flip side. After hearing such incidents, I first laughed at them.”

Tharun Bhascker says those incidents made him laugh his lungs out. He realised that any crime can evoke laughter when we look at it from a different perspective. Comedy being his strength, he took inspiration from those incidents and started working on Keedaa Cola.

Ahead of the release of his crime-comedy drama (3 November), the filmmaker addressed the media in Hyderabad on Tuesday, 31 October.

Related: I took three days to prep for my role in ‘Keedaa Cola’: Chaitanya Rao

Love for dark comedy

The director says he grew up watching crime comedy a lot. His all-time favourite is Money Money (1994) starring JD Chakravarthy, Brahmanandam, Kota Srinivasa Rao, and Jayasudha.

“In fact, I started developing an interest in dark comedy as more films like Soodhu Kavvum (2013) and Jigarthanda (2014). But my first film Pelli Choopulu (2016) was a boring subject for which I won the National Award for Best Screenplay,” he quipped.

“I was not in the mood to direct romcoms. I am not cut out for helming love stories. But I somehow made Pelli Choopulu and it was a hit. But Keedaa Cola is like a dream come true,” Tharun Bhascker noted.

‘Afraid of responsibility’

A poster of the film Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi

A poster of the film ‘Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi’. (TharunBhasckerD/ X)

The Pelli Choopulu director admits that he gets frightened whenever someone talks to him about “responsibility”.

“My father told me that ‘the National Award is like carrying a heavy stone on one’s head’. To lessen that burden, I made Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (2018).”

When he narrated the concept to producer Suresh Babu garu, he gave his nod but cautioned the filmmaker that the movie may not receive as much applause as Pelli Choopulu did.

“But I assured him good business with Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi at the box office,” he recalled.

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Keedaa Cola is closer to life’

Tharun Bhascker reveals that he took some cinematic liberty to make Keedaa Cola more spicier.

Pelli Choopulu was quite closer to reality. Every detail in it was spot on and audiences had instantly connected with the story. However, Keedaa Cola has so many real-life references,” he said.

He recollected an incident from the shoot. “Artiste Jeevan once showed up with a gold chain. The other day, he sported another gold chain. The next time, he bought a bigger one. When I asked him why he was wearing ornaments, he told me seriously that the guy who lives next door was a corporator and that he erected a massive cutout sporting a thick gold chain.”

The director added, “I felt it was silly and wondered why we are leading such a messed up and competitive life. There is so much wackiness in people around us and I tried to portray the same in Keedaa Cola.”

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Rejections and criticism

A poster of the film Keedaa Cola

A poster of the film ‘Keedaa Cola’. (TharunBhasckerD/ X)

Tharun Bhascker says he faced multiple rejections and criticism as a filmmaker. “I keep having ‘criticism’ as my breakfast every day. Even now, some of my relatives would ask me, ‘Hey Tharun, haven’t you bought a new house yet?'”

And guess what he replies: “What the heck is your problem? Am I living in your home?”

However, he stopped proving those people. “I am happy doing what I can. My heart is in the right place.”

Going down his memory lane, Tharun Bhascker said, “I genuinely want to make people laugh. During the times of Pelli Choopulu, I would feel as if I was the only filmmaker and only my movies were masterpieces. This can happen with any student coming out of a film school.”

He signed off by saying, “The intellectual ego has to be satisfied. Like a director wants his subordinates — workers and drivers — to enjoy his work on the screen, I want to genuinely deliver comedy to the audience.”

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